Chapter 6: Principles of Cognitive Learning Theory and the Construction of Knowledge
• Principles (laws) – statements about an area of study that are generally accepted as true
o Ex. Newton’s laws of motion
• Cognitive learning theories theories that explain learning in terms of people’s thinking and the
processes involved in acquiring, organizing, and using knowledge
• Learning and development depend on experience.
• Meaningfulness the extent to which experiences and the information are interconnected with other
experiences or information
• People want their experiences to make sense.
o Information that makes sense is easier to remember than facts.
• To make sense of their experiences, learners construct knowledge.
• Knowledge that learners construct depends on what they already know.
o Ex. Adding fractions… kids may think that (1/3) + (1/4) is (2/7) because they know how to add
regular whole numbers.
• Social Interaction Facilitates Learning
o Important learning benefits:
Builds on others’ ideas
Puts thoughts into words
o Wisdom can’t be told – sometimes people are cognitively passive & ideas go right over their
o Rule of thumb: if we explain an idea, our students may or may not “get” it; if they can explain it
to us, we know they have it.
• Cognitive constructivism – a view that describes knowledge construction as an individual, internal
o Emphasizes individuals’ search for meaning as they interact with the environment and test and
modify their existing understanding
• Social processes influence our lives in many ways.
o Ex. If your friends eat heavily at a restaurant, you are more likely to, too.
o Ex. People with support groups lost 33% more weight than those that did it alone.
• Social constructivism a view of constructivism suggesting that learners first construct knowledge in a
social context and then individually internalize it
o Ex. Devon thought the spider was a bug, but then changed his thinking because of his discussion
with Gino, and then his dialogue itself helped Devon more clearly understand the difference
between insects and spiders
• Appropriating learning the process of individually internalizing understanding after it has first been
• Sociocultural theory a form of social constructivism that emphasizes the social dimensions of
learning, but places greater emphasis on the larger cultural contexts in which learning occurs
o Ex. In some cultures, children are not viewed as legitimate partners in conversation, and as a
result, they may be reluctant to raise their hands at school to answer questions
• Community of learners – a learning environment in which the teacher and students work together to
help everyone learn
o Strive to create an “all in this together environment” – grades are not a competition, but just a
display of the extent they mastered content